Maccas workers need support on May Day

Unite Union is calling on all New Zealanders to give support to McDonald's workers this Friday, May 1st by tooting their support when they see pickets outside stores and not buying a burger on that day.
Unite received an email this morning from a McDonald's worker typical of the many we have received over the years: "I am definitely against this zero hour contract thing at McDonald's, I've been working there and I have literally struggled with my house expenses and the level of bullying was also extreme, and just coz of zero contract thing I could not even approach anyone so that I don't lose on those handful of hours that I was getting to work. It was as if people are into customer support but are hardly bothered to smile. I am definitely supportive of ending the zero contract at Mcds."
McDonald's walked out of bargaining on Tuesday because they refused to discuss how an offer to end zero hours would work. In particular the company had no offer to make around the second aspect of Unite's secure hours claims which was for more regular and secure shifts being rostered rather than workers having to wait until only a few days before for the rosters to go up telling what days they will be working.
Restaurant Brands and Burger King have offered to move to secure shifts as well as a formula to guarantee hours.  
McDonald's is also wanting workers to give up their paid tea breaks for working a three hour shift, give up a second tea break for working between 6 and seven and a half hours, and give up a third tea break for working between 8 and 11 and half hours.
McDonald's has a deeply anti-union history around the world. It is no different in New Zealand.
  • The company started paying non union staff earning above the minimum wage a 50 cent an hour increase from April 1 but threatening union members that they won't get that increase. 
  • Some franchisees did no pay the minimum wage rise from April 1 to union members until told they were breaking the law!
  • The company deliberately delayed negotiations for several weeks until the contract expired on the promise of a big move towards an end to zero hours and when the offer came it affected less than 10% of staff. 
  • The company won't allow the union to put notices up in stores without the company censors approval.
  • The company refuses staff the option of joining the union at the time they join the company.
  • Workers at McDonalds franchises are routinely pressured to resign from the union under threats.
  • Managers, or anyone who wants to be a manager, are told that being in the union is not good for their future prospects.
  • The company was the last of the fast food companies to sign a collective agreement with Unite. During the initial negotiations they refused to deduct union fees for six months and paid a minimum wage rise a month early to non-union staff to try to stop people joining Unite.
  • The company regularly interferes with Unite's right to visit member and talk to non-members when legally visiting stores.
  • The company has cut the hours of staff for taking strike action.
  • The company refuses to recognise the right of union staff to go behind the counter to inspect for health and safety breaches.
  • The company managers constantly use their power to cut hours under zero hour contracts to punish workers for exercising basic legal rights including taking their breaks and using sick leave. This culture is so ingrained that the company made a formal proposal in bargaining that they wanted to be able to take guaranteed hours off staff for two alleged "no shows".
Help the McDonald's workers stand up to bullying and intimidation on May Day - international workers day.


Unite to strike Maccas on May 1 - company walks out of bargaining


Unite Union Media Release April 28, 2015

McDonald's has walked out of bargaining with Unite Union today despite taking the first steps towards a meaningful offer around ending zero hour contracts.
Unite National Director Mike Treen says the union was bewildered by the company action.
We had welcomed their offer and wanted more information around how that might work with secure shifts for staff in the future. Other fast food companies like Restaurant Brands and Burger King have acknowledged that a secure hours regime will necessarily involve some form of secure shifts as well.
We also wanted to continue bargaining around a few other claims that were important to the union including a special payment for members to allow the terms of the collective agreement to be passed on to non members of the union. We also wanted the right of staff to join the union when they join the company and the right of the union to to put up union information in stores without a company veto. These are basic rights we have at other fast food companies.
Instead of negotiating meaningfully on these issues which we prepared to do they walked out.
Unite will conducting strike action by its members at McDonald's on May 1. We ask all fair minded Kiwis to show their support for these workers on that day which is also May Day or International Workers Day.

Old McDonald's had a strike....



The author is a McDonald's crew member in the South Island.

Going on strike is scary, but it's also very exciting.

It's not like other kinds of protest. You're not just showing up to the city square at 3pm, marching down the road shouting about the war/the environment/the Illuminati lizard people then going home to obsessively search Facebook for photos with you in them. Instead, you have to walk off your own job, under the watchful and perhaps slightly disapproving eyes of the shift manager.

Normally these are the guys in charge, the ones who tell you what to do, but for this one moment, on this one day, life gets flipped-turned upside down and you take control. It's exciting, but it can also be very scary.

In the days leading up to the strike you sneak conversations with your coworkers while the managers are out back. You remind them that the union is negotiating for us all to get secure hours and higher wages, and that the bosses are refusing to budge. You argue that if we strike it'll show the company that we means business, and it'll put us in the media – who, for once, are overwhelmingly on our side. Everyone knows zero hour contracts are bullshit.

Read more

The repercussions of having a PM who is a sexual harasser.

By Shanna Reeder, Unite Hotels organiser 


Today our Prime Minister John Key admitted to repeatedly sexually harassing a waitress in a cafe he frequents.

She told her story anonymously this morning via The Daily Blog


Read more

Unite calls on government to stop subsidising jobs at McDonald's and Wendy's

Media Release: 20 April 2015
Unite Union is questioning why McDonald's and Wendy's need government subsidies to hire staff on what the union says will be zero hour contracts.
"We have been told of many cases where McDonald's and Wendy's staff have been taken from WINZ in a subsidised job and then the workers have had their hours cut when the subsidy ends," said Unite National Director Mike Treen.
"We complained about this subsidy two years ago when figures obtained under the Official Information Act revealed that $272,574 was paid to McDonald's between July 1 2009, when the subsidies began, and June 30, 2013.  The subsidies will actually be much higher than this figure because 80% of McDonald's stores are owned by Franchisees and would be registered separately with WINZ as an employer.
Read more

Hundreds of fast food workers around the New Zealand today rallied to call for an end to Zero Hour Contracts

Striking McDonalds’ workers took part in marches and pickets in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin today, many speaking to the crowds and to the media about the hardship of living with insecure work and income. 
In Auckland 300 workers and supporters (many from other unions) marched up Queen Street, stopping to congratulate workers at Burger King and Starbucks stores who will have secure hours within months and picketing McDonalds and Wendy’s stores.
Images from the day can be found on our flickr site: and keep reading for a full wrap up of the day.
Read more

McDonalds "rostered zero hours" offer meaningless - Action on April 15


Strikes and protests are going ahead at McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy's on Wednesday as part of an international fast food workers day of action.

Unite National Director Mike Treen said McDonald's had put out some PR spin while they were in bargaining this morning with us that claimed an end to zero hours but is far from a genuine secure hours offer.
Their offer was for a "guarantee" of 80% of "rostered hours". This is a meaningless formula. Rostered hours are a long way from hours worked which is the formula we have used at Restaurant Brands.
Rostered hours are completely under the control of the company. They can go up and down at their discretion. These companies always roster people for fewer hours than they need and less than they usually work to keep the workers hungry for hours and waiting at home for a phone call for extra shifts. Managers will continue to have power to use and abuse the rosters. 
Workers will have no way of knowing whether the roster is fair and equitable. We need a guarantee of hours based on the hours a worker usually works not what they are rostered. That way it also allows guaranteed hours to build up over time. 
There is also no pathway or commitment to regular fixed shifts in the future, which is a very important aspect of the agreement with Restaurant Brands. Workers want to be able to plan their lives and with shifts that change week to week it simply isn’t possible.
We have not accepted this so called offer from McDonald's. We remain in dispute with all three companies. However bargaining continues. We ask the public to keep up the pressure on these three companies until we have genuine offers to end zero hours.

Auckland: Assemble outside Brittomart 12 noon

Palmerston North: 12 noon Rangitikei St, 

Wellington: 12 noon, Manners Mall, City Central

Christchurch: 6pm, McDonald’s Cnr Linwood Ave and Buckleys Rd.

Dunedin: 5pm, McDonald's Anderson's Bay, 391 Anderson's Bay Rd,

NZ Labour Letter April 2015

Enclosed is the latest edition of your New Zealand Labour Letter. 2015 marks 20 years of AIL in New Zealand and we look forward to continuing to serve the labour community. The online publication of the New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd. 

April 2015, Vol. 6 No. 4

National Labour News

Unite Union negotiated a new pact with Restaurant Brands that ends zero hour contracts by July. Unite has 2000 members at the chain which includes KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks stores. "This is a gigantic step forward for workers in the fast food industry," said Unite National Director Mike Treen. According to the union, the proposal promises staff at least 80 per cent of the average hours will be guaranteed using a three month rolling average of hours worked up to a maximum of 32 hours a week. The union said McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's are still refusing to move meaningfully on the issue. "It is time for New Zealanders to tell these profitable multi-national chains that they need to stop taking advantage of their often young and vulnerable workers and put an end to a labour practice that the people of New Zealand have made clear they find unacceptable," he said. Union members approved an industrial and public campaign to pressure these companies into ending zero hour contracts. Unite also will join the international day of action by fast food workers on April 15.

NZ Council of Trade Unions April 1 presented a petition on the steps of Parliament with more than 1000 signatures which called on the Government to ban the importation of asbestos and develop a comprehensive plan for the removal of all existing asbestos in New Zealand. The petition was accepted by Labour leader Andrew Little and will go to a select committee which will study it and decide what should be done. "Asbestos is the biggest workplace killer in New Zealand. It kills at least 170 workers annually, more than twice as many workers as accidental deaths at work. The number of people dying from asbestos related diseases (lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis) is increasing and the Government projections are that it will peak at 300 deaths annually, higher than the road toll," said CTU Secretary, Sam Huggard. He said New Zealand was "out of step" with other developed countries which have banned all products that contain asbestos.

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Hell's Pizza surrender on zero hours

It seems some companies are surrendering on zero hours without a shot being fired. We had a discussion this morning at the Unite office about extending Unite's organising drive into other fast food joints like Hell's Pizza, Burger Fuel and Domino's. This afternooon we got the news that Hell's Pizza were going to stop using zero hour contracts. This is their statement.

Hell has no time for zero-hour contracts

The recent focus on zero-hour employment contracts has lead Hell to review and revise its policy regarding the practice. From today, employees of all 65 Hell Pizza franchises are guaranteed fixed weekly hours, which will be reflected in new employment contracts by June 1 2015.

Hell general manager Ben Cumming says: “Zero-hour contracts have been an industry norm for quite some time. Hell strives to be a desirable and well-regarded employer; we believe all of our franchisees have acted in good faith in regards to employees’ hours of work. As such, we don’t foresee the change having any material effect on our operations or staff.”


Deacon Chris Sullivan: "Zero Hour contracts- against God"

Dear Maccas, Burger King and Wendy's,

I urge you to end zero hours contracts which are a form of worker exploitation and are not a good buisness practice for companies wanting to succeed and grow.

As Pope Francis has often pointed out, such exploitation of workers is against God.

It's time to be honest and provide secure hours for your workers.

Not knowing what hours you will be working or how much will be in your pay packet from week to week is no way to live. People I know are genuinely shocked when they learn how your workers can have their hours and pay slashed from week to week simply because their manager decides so.

This causes so much unecessary stress on working families. Workers on zero hours cannot even get bank loans to buy houses or cars because they have zero hours.

You expect them to turn up to work when you want but don't have the decency to make sure they have enough paid hours each week to feed their families and pay their bills. These sorts of jobs have no place in a modern society.

You run profitable retail businesses with set hours. There is simply no good reason why you can't offer all your workers a guarantee of hours.

I understand that workers at KFC, Pizza Hutt, Carls Jr. and Starbucks will have guaranteed hours from July this year. If Restaurant Brands can do it then why can't you?

You all claim to be good, caring corporate citizens of New Zealand. It's time to prove it.

Kind Regards,
Rev Chris Sullivan